Christy and Aaron Tracker

Follow Christy and Aaron on their backpacking trip around the world

Weirdest Christmas Ever

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 12 26th, 2010

Every year of our lives, Christy and I have spent Christmas and the holiday season with our families in Ohio. For obvious reasons (the world trip), we were going to spend Christmas away from our hometowns for the first time. We went to a hotel at Hua Hin to celebrate this Christmas at the beach. We tried to blend some of our favorite holiday traditions with the amazing local atmosphere. In the end we both found ourselves saying, “It wasn’t the best Christmas. It wasn’t the worst Christmas. But it was definitely the weirdest Christmas.”

Thanks to Christy’s Grandma and Aunts, we were treated to a hotel room for Christmas. We felt like we were living in luxury. We could only remember 7 other times we had a room to ourselves with our own bathroom. We also made sure to get a room with free wi-fi so we could call our families on Christmas day.

We spent our time in Hua Hin trying to find the Christmas spirit in the city and ourselves.

We went to the beach:

Christy and Aaron at Hua Hin beach

We admired the decorations and lights throughout the city. The city was decorated with lots of lights to celebrate the king’s birthday on December fifth and they are left up through the new year celebrations. We pretended they were Christmas decorations too.

Christy in Hua Hin

The malls had real Christmas decorations up for the tourists:

Christy and Thailand Christmas decorations

One of the best thing in Thailand are the night markets. It is fun to look around at all of the stuff with out getting pressured by the shop keepers. It has been months since we could look at souvenirs without getting hassled. It is such a relief once the hassle is gone.

Christy in the night market

We go to the night markets almost every night to eat good cheap street food.  We usually pay around $1 per item, including full plates of pad thai. There are also a lot of exotic foods available. Look how happy I am with my special Christmas Eve treat, squid on a stick . As you will see later, I would come to regret this decision.

Aaron and squid on a stick

Christy went for a different Christmas Eve treat, a festive ice cream sundae.

Christy and her ice cream sundae

We spent the rest of Christmas Eve night watching Christmas shows on Youtube and my favorite holiday movie, A Christmas Story.

Christy watching A Christmas Story

Christmas day we went to a safari park to ride elephants as the second part of our gift from Christy’s aunts. As a bonus we got to hold a tiger cub.

Christy and a tiger cub

Christy and Aaron riding an elephant

As the day wore on I started feeling sicker and sicker. We ended up back in our hotel room for the rest of the day while I battled food poisoning from the squid on a stick.

Aaron sick with food poisoning

We did not go out to dinner at a nice restaurant like planned, because I could not leave the hotel room. Christy’s Christmas dinner ended up being a Pizza Hut pizza.

Christmas dinner pizza

Later that night we Skyped with our families. While Skype calls are nice, we wished we could be with them, instead of watching them open presents on the computer screen. This is the first time we have felt really homesick on the trip and wanted to be home. Christmas is always such a nice time of year in the United States it was sad to be somewhere else. Now that Christmas is over I am sure our desire to return home will fade as new adventures begin.

Beaches, lights, elephant rides, squid on a stick, and Skype, it was a weird Christmas.



Skype

Posted by Aaron in Planning on 05 9th, 2010

We signed up for our Skype subscription today. Our subscription will allow us unlimited pc to phone calls to the United States. We are hoping that this will be enough for us to talk to our friends and family back home without the cost of international phone calls. As long as we can find a wifi connection we will be able to call back to the United States! The subscription is only $2.99 per month. If we find we want to be able to call to other countries we can upgrade to a $13.99 a month plan.

One other option we thought about was was to get an international cell phone. After talking with a couple of couch surfers who were traveling the world for a year, we decided not to get an international cell phone. Jerome and Morgane bought SIM cards in the first 3 countries they visited, but they ended up using very few minutes. In the fourth country, they decided to skip the cell phone to see how they would adjust. They found they did not miss the cell phone at all and had not purchased SIM cards again. They felt they wasted a lot of money early on for a service they did not use. Based on their experience, we are going to try to travel without an international phone. The good news is we can always buy a phone if we feel the need for one.

Hopefully with our Skype account we will be able to stay connected and we will not need the extra expense of a cell phone. It is going to be weird to not have a cell phone for the first time in 10 years.



Skype

Posted by Aaron in Planning, Posts on 09 20th, 2009

It looks like Skype is going to be the way to go for our phone needs.

The price is great, $2.95 a month for unlimited computer to phone calling to the United States, or $12.95 a month for unlimited computer to phone calling to over 40 countries. Other benefits include:

  • Unlimited computer to computer calling
  • Unlimited computer to computer video calls
  • Free voicemail
  • For $30 a year we can get a phone number that will allow people to call our Skype account.
  • In some countries we can get a free Skype access number that will allow us to call people internationally on our skype plan using a phone at local rates. This could be a big money saver when we are in the countries that support this. Unfortunately, it does not look like the list of countries is very extensive.

It looks like the final billing possibilities for for a year of using Skype are:

International Unlimited United States Unlimited
With online number $185.40 $65.40
Without online number $155.40 $35.40

Not so bad! I would think the international plan would be better since we could call local places, such as hostels and new friends anywhere we have wi-fi without worrying about the cost.

My only concern is the call quality might not be great internationally. I am also concerned about the availability of wi-fi internationally. We do not plan on being in Western Europe for very long. However, $185.40 for the entire year with no contract commitments makes Skype look like a great way for budget minded backpackers to stay connected to friends and family while they are travelling abroad.